I know I was just complaining about the heat being back, but with rain predicted the rest of the week it’s actually staying below 90 for a few days, hooray! I’m really loving this milder summer Memphis has had thus far because that means I can turn on my oven guilt-free (and high-bill free). I should probably bake a bunch this week just in case it’s never cool again, but that also means I need to clear out some space in my freezer to store them. The three ice cream flavors I currently have in there are not being devoured fast enough! Who wants to come over for an ice cream party??
But today’s post isn’t about ice cream or baked desserts, is about baked meat! Some people are a little weirded out by fruit and meat combos. I happen to thoroughly enjoy things such as hawaiian pizza, orange beef and chicken, kebabs, pineapple fried rice, and the first offender is likely my mom’s pineapple burger. Fruit and meat entrees are especially desirable during the summer and this recipe hits the spot. A (not-dried-out) pork loin chop is topped off with an avocado-mango salsa and served with a spinach quinoa. It’s a light yet filling meal, but if for some reason you need a little more try scooping up some of the salsa with corn chips! I actually had a little bit of leftover salsa and ended up doing that exact thing the next day.
PORK LOIN CHOPS WITH AVOCADO-MANGA SALSA AND SPINACH QUINOA
1 lb. pork loin chops (preferably four 1/4 lb. ones)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp salt, divided
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
8 cups baby spinach, chopped
1 large mango, peeled and diced
1 medium avocado, peeled and diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped (keep the seeds if you prefer more heat)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- Combine the pork, 1/4 cup cilantro, oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Allow to marinade at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.
- In a medium pot, combine the quinoa and chicken broth. Cover and bring to a simmer, continuing to cook until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. Add the spinach and allow to cook another 2-3 minutes, or until wilted. Stir to combine.
- While the quinoa cooks, preheat oven to 475 degrees. Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add the pork and sear for 1-2 minutes on each side. Cover (if your cover is not oven-proof, use foil) and bake for 10-15 minutes or until no longer pink.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine remaining 1/4 cup cilantro with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, mango, avocado, tomato, onion, jalapeño and lime juice.
- Serve pork topped with salsa and spinach quinoa on the side.
Source: Adapted from SELF.
After my cousin’s bachelorette party over Memorial weekend, Shiva’s shower this past weekend, the upcoming two more bachelorette parties for Amber and Shiva and then the 3 weddings themselves, I am super excited about wedding season this summer. Unfortunately, it also leaves my mind very blank when it comes to talking about today’s recipe.
Between avocado, mini sweet bell pepper and mango I cannot get enough. Since this meal includes two of those current obsessions, I ended up making it twice in one week. Plus it was crazy easy to make. I think that’s enough information to convince you to make this for yourself! Ii is halved from the original recipe resulting in 2 servings, but you can easily double it back for four.
HONEY-LIME CHICKEN KEBABS
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tsp grated lime rind
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 Tbsp honey
4 mini sweet bell peppers
1 sliced peeled mangoes
Chili powder (optional)
- Preheat broiler to high. Line broiler pan with foil and coat with nonstick spray, set aside.
- Combine first 5 ingredients; toss to coat. Thread chicken onto 2 (12-inch) skewers. Place kebabs on a broiler pan along with mini bell peppers; broil 4 minutes on each side or until done.
- While the chicken cooks, combine juice and honey in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Arrange kebabs, peppers and mango slices on a platter; drizzle with honey mixture, and sprinkle with chili powder, if desired.
Source: Halved from Cooking Light, June 2013.
Happy National Cheese Day! What better way to celebrate that with some pasta covered in it? When it comes to mac and cheese, I tend to prefer the stove top varieties bnecause they are creamier. I have never met a baked version that could compete. That was until this recipe happened because it just may be the creamiest baked mac and cheese ever.
When Lindsay (Love & Olive Oil) posted about this recipe and explained how many sub-par batches of mac and cheese she and Taylor had to eat before reaching the perfect consistency and flavor, I knew I had to make it with the exact same cheeses. It was surprisingly difficult to locate mild white cheddar in the grocery stores near me, but finally found one and it was well worth the hunt.
Don’t like Brussels sprouts? Leave them out or substitute for another veggie, such as broccoli. This creamy mac and cheese is the perfect base to which you can incorporate any of your favorite add-ins.
BRUSSELS SPROUT MAC AND CHEESE
Serves 4 as side or 2 as entree
4 oz. whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 cup + 2 Tbsp whole milk
2-1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 oz. mild white cheddar cheese, grated and divided
1 oz. gruyere cheese, grated
1 oz. pecorino cheese, grated
4 oz. Brussels sprouts, trimmed, cored, and very thinly sliced
2 Tbsp Panko bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8×8-inch (or 7×9) casserole dish and set aside.
- Cook macaroni according to package directions until just barely al-dente (about 1 minute less than recommended cook time). Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saute pan set over medium heat. When butter is melted and frothy, add flour and whisk until smooth and begins to bubble, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly pour in warm milk,whisking vigorously, until all the milk is incorporated and mixture is smooth.
- Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking regularly, until sauce bubbles and has thickened slightly, about 5 top 8 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in cayenne, paprika, and salt and pepper. Slowly add cheeses, a handful at a time, whisking until melted before adding more. Add all but 1/2 cup of the white cheddar cheese (set aside for sprinkling on top). Stir in macaroni and sliced Brussels sprouts until evenly coated.
- Pour into the prepared dish. Sprinkle with reserved cheese and breadcrumbs over top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until filling is bubbling, then broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Source: Halved from Love & Olive Oil.
I love that veggie burgers come in all sorts of flavors. I myself have made a few including edamame and eggplant, and even though there’s never been a disappointment I still shy away from trying a homemade black bean burger. I have zero explanation for this especially after successfully making black bean brownies. Today I once again am sharing a non-black bean veggie burger. Maybe one day I will venture down that road, but for now let’s focus on sweet potato.
Sweet potato might be one of my favorite starches. I first fell in love with it in French fry form, and then later in gnocchi. Twice. So trying it in burgers seemed like the next step. The incorporation of garlic and smoked paprika sealed the deal for me. The flavors were incredible! And of course you know I can never say no to topping it all off with avocado, especially when in cream form.
Speaking of the cream, while it I mistakenly thought the avocado went into the cream instead of just sliced on top of the burgers. However, it ended up being a happy accident because it made the sauce taste that much better, and believe that the avocado slices would’ve squeezed out due to the softness of the burger patty. I should’ve just pretended I did it on purpose and not said a word to you but I’m not afraid to admit my mistakes. Especially when it turns out to not be a bad thing!
I have a feeling you are eyeing that creamy goodness in the background. Never fear for it is being posted tomorrow!
Two years ago: Veggie Eggs Benedict
SMOKY SWEET POTATO BURGERS WITH ROASTED GARLIC AVOCADO CREAM
2 large sweet potatoes (used 2-15 oz. cans instead)
2 bulbs garlic
1 cup cannellini beans
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1-1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Pinch of cumin
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 avocado, sliced
2/3 cup Greek yogurt (used 2% Chobani)
1 tsp maple syrup
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 burger buns (used wheat oat flax buns)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Pierce potatoes all over with a fork. Wrap each in a paper towel and then microwave for 5 minutes. Flip over and cook for five minutes more. Remove from the microwave, slice in half and let cool until you can scoop out the flesh*.
- To roast the garlic, cut the top quarter off of the two bulbs of garlic. Drizzle 1 tsp olive oil over each bulb. Wrap in aluminum foil and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
- In a bowl, coarsely mash the beans with a fork. Add in the sweet potato, then mash together. Mix in the Panko, flour, egg, paprika, salt, black pepper, and cumin. Place the bowl in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
- While the mixture is chilling, combine the avocado, Greek yogurt with the roasted garlic cloves, maple syrup, and salt and pepper to taste in a food processor and pulse until pureed.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Remove the burger mixture from the fridge and form into 6 equal patties. Lightly dredge the patty in flour. Place them in the skillet once it is hot. Let them cook until they are fully set and golden on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Assemble by topping the burger buns with the roasted garlic sauce, a burger, more sauce, and sandwich with top of buns.
*I skipped this step because the canned, diced sweet potato was mushy already.
Source: Slightly adapted from Eats Well With Others.
In undergrad I made a lot of stir fries. Oh the days before food blogging and my desire to make new recipes all the time. And the days when I was even less financially stable than I am now, which is hard to imagine as I sit here worrying how my bank account it going to survive the month. How did I function all those years with even less money than I have now? But I digress.
Stir fries are great not only because they are fast, but because you can really throw in whatever veggies and sauces you have lying about in your fridge. My new veggie obsession is baby sweet bell peppers because in the past I always find myself with fractions of bell peppers, but now I can just use little ones. A couple of those, a small chicken breast, soy sauce and some chili garlic sauce makes for a delicious stir fry.
In unrelated news, today is my sister-in-law Kate’s birthday! Happy 29th Birthday <3!! Hope you enjoy your birthday package that arrived yesterday .
One year ago: Strawberries and Cream Pie
Two years ago: Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie
SIMPLE CHICKEN & SWEET PEPPER STIR FRY
1/4 cup quinoa (or brown rice)
2 tsp olive oil
2 baby sweet bell peppers, julienned
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz. chicken breast, cut into thin bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1/8 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 scallion, thinly sliced (optional)
- Prepare quinoa or brown rice according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium heat with one teaspoon oil. Add the bell peppers, and garlic and stir-fry until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Return skillet to heat and add another teaspoon of oil. Add the chicken and stir-fry until the chicken loses its raw color and is golden, about 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce, garlic chili sauce, and return the bell peppers to the pan and toss to heat through.
- Serve over quinoa (or brown rice) and top with scallions.
Source: The Spiffy Cookie original
During one of my most recent visits to Nashville, I went to a taco stand called Mas Tacos Por Favor and had the best fried avocado tacos. I enjoyed them so much that I had to figure out how to make them at home, or else I would have driven 3 hours just to get some more.
Oven-frying is my favorite way to cook chicken, so I decided to incorporate this method for the avocado and it worked beautifully. I couldn’t remember exactly what else was on the taco, but I improvised based on what I could remember or see in the picture I took with my phone and it came out pretty darn close. The only thing I would change is possibly cutting back a little on the lime or adding sriracha to the sauce. I think a lime-sriracha sauce would be wonderful.
These tacos were also served with a healthier version of elote (Mexican corn), which will be posted tomorrow!
One year ago: Farfalle with Zucchini and Ricotta
OVEN-FRIED AVOCADO TACOS WITH CILANTRO-LIME CREME
2 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 large, firm but ripe avocado (pitted, peeled, and sliced into 1/2-in wedges)
1 lime wedge
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 2% Chobani)
1 Tbsp finely minced cilantro
Zest of 1/2 lime
1/2 Tbsp lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
6-six inch white corn tortillas
1 small radicchio, chopped
1/4 cup sliced red onion
Cilantro, for topping
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange a wire rack on a large baking sheet; coat rack with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Pour the corn starch and Panko bread crumbs on two separate shallow plates. Put the egg in a shallow bowl and beat until well blended.
- Squeeze the lime wedge over the slices of avocado. Lightly coat each avocado slice with the cornstarch. Knock off any excess. Dip the coated avocado into the eggs then coat with the Panko bread crumbs.
- Arrange avocado on rack; coat with cooking spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden.
- Meanwhile, prepare the cilantro-lime crème by mixing together all of the ingredients in a small bowl.
- Wrap the corn tortillas in a damp paper towel and heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Evenly divide the radicchio and red onion among the tortillas, followed by the avocado. Top with lime creme and cilantro. Serve immediately.
Posts on Sunday? Yes because it’s Single Serving Sunday! Remember the leftover avocado from the breakfast taco I shared last Sunday? Well today I am sharing a simple pasta dish that uses it for a sauce. Using some of the cooking water and a little bit of seasoning, the avocado turns into a creamy delicious sauce. You may even find yourself whipping this up in larger quantities when cooking for others. No one has to know how easy it was to prepare.
Add some red pepper flakes if you want a little kick!
Two years ago: Baked Zucchini Fries with Balsamic Aioli
1-1/4 cup cooked whole wheat spaghetti, 1/2 cup cooking water reserved
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Garlic powder, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup cauliflower florets, steamed
1 Tbsp toasted pine nuts
- While the pasta is cooking, mash the avocado in a small bowl. Stir in basil, olive oil and seasonings to taste.
- When the pasta is done, thin avocado sauce to desired consistency using a tablespoon at a time of the reserved cooking water (I used about 1/4 cup).
- Serve sauce over pasta, with steamed cauliflower and toasted pine nuts.
Source: Adapted from Fitness, January 2013.
I have not touched a single plant other than my baby basil growing on my porch in weeks. Yet somehow last week I contracted what looks like a small patch of poison ivy rash on the back of my right hand. It is strategically placed in an area that leads me to believe I shook hands with someone who had it on their thumb. WASH YOUR HANDS PEOPLE. Ugh! I’ll be soaking it in the Atlantic ocean this weekend for my cousin’s bachelorette party so hopefully that will help dry it out.
Speaking of washing your hands, be sure to also do so whenever you immerse your hands in raw meat to make burgers or these lamb meatballs. Mixing and forming raw meat is one of my least favorite tasks while cooking, so I took advantage of Bob since he was visiting for BBQ fest/a long weekend and delegated this step to him. Add that to the list of reasons why I like cooking with others O:-). Don’t worry, I was kind enough to turn on the faucet and dollop soap onto his hands afterwards.
These gyros would be a perfect weeknight meal because it comes together quickly and satisfies. But if you feel the need for a side, go for a Greek salad or if you have more time, oven roasted Greek potatoes.
One year ago: Spicy Basil Chicken
Two years ago: Buttermilk Ranch Mac & Cheese
SIMPLE LAMB MEATBALL GYROS
1 lb. ground lamb
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 whole grain English muffin, pulsed in a food processor for breadcrumbs
1 egg, lighten beaten
4 scallions, thinly sliced, divided
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used 0% plain Chobani)
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
1/4 cup freshly chopped tomatoes, for garnish
1/4 cup sliced red onion, for garnish
1 lime, for spritzing
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 400. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with nonstick spray, set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the lamb, raisins, cinnamon, breadcrumbs, egg, 3/4 of the scallions, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Form meatballs about the size of a golf ball. Place them on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating every few minutes so they brown evenly on all sides.
- Heat the pita bread in the microwave until soft and pliable. Place 3 to 5 ball on each pita bread. Dollop with a little yogurt and garnish with remaining scallions, mint, tomato and red onion. Spritz with lime and serve!
Source: Bev Cooks
The other day I spotted a 2.5 quart crock pot in a sale bin at Kroger. For $9.99. With purple polka dots! With my need for a smaller crock pot, minimal funds, and love for purple it’s like it was meant to be mine and therefore I swiped it up and purchased it (and heck yea for extra gas points). Hopefully cooking smaller volume recipes in this smaller crock pot will solve my issue with things cooking too fast in my larger 5 quart one, although it still lacks a timer setting on it so I will still have to depend on my plug timer.
Unfortunately, I bought the 2.5 quart crock pot after making this recipe I am sharing with you today, so I cannot yet report on it’s functionality just yet. So as usual for my 5 quart crock pot this recipe cooked twice as fast and therefore be sure to adjust the cooking time based on your crock pot’s mannerisms. But cooking time adjustments aside, this was an awesome meal. The beef was tender and the sauce was so good I ended up using every last drop on top of some leftover rice. Yes, I ate just the sauce over some rice because I enjoyed it that much.
SLOW COOKER BEEF & BROCCOLI
1 lb. boneless, beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips
1 cup beef consumme or beef broth
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 cups broccoli florets, cooked
White rice, cooked
- Coat the inside of the crockpot with nonstick spray.
- In the crockpot, whisk together beef consume, soy sauce, dark brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic.
- Gently place your slices of beef in the liquid and toss to coat.
- Turn crockpot on low and cook for 6 hours*.
- When done, in a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 4 tablespoons of the cooking liquid to create a slurry, pour back into crockpot, and stir to mix well. Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes to thicken up the sauce.
- Serve with broccoli florets over white rice.
*Cooking times may vary. My crock pot cooks hot with smaller volumes and only took 3 hours.
Source: Adapted slightly from Table for Two.
Today I am sharing a very special local dish from where I grew up, known as the Garbage Plate. Not a very appetizing name right? Let me explain… A Garbage Plate is a combination of one selection of typically cheeseburger, hamburger, red hots, or white hots. But you can also choose Italian sausage, chicken tender, haddock, fried ham, grilled cheese, or eggs (yes eggs and it’s called a Breakfast Plate – it’s delicious). Then you choose two sides of either home fries, French fries, baked beans, or macaroni salad. On top of that are the options of mustard and onions, and a proprietary hot sauce, made with spices and slowly simmered ground beef. And then it’s all served with Italian bread and butter on the side. I like to use the bread to swipe up any remaining sauce when I’m finished! There’s actually a specific way to put it all together too. Click HERE to see how!
Are you hungry yet? Okay I know what you are thinking, and yes, it is definitely more popular to the college student crowd. Although I’ve actually eaten it sober many many more times than under the influence. Nick Tahou Hots is the originator of a the Garbage Plate and it’s popularity has spawned several imitators in the Greater Rochester area, including Mark’s Texas Hots (“The Sloppy Plate”), Gitsis Texas Hots (“The Gitsis Plate”), Empire Hots (“The Trash Plate”), Fairport Hots (“The Hot Plate”), Tom Wahl’s (“55 Junker Plate”), Jimmy Z’s (“Five Star Plate”), and others. Another fun fact, Health.com named the Garbage Plate the fattiest food in the state of New York, which is not all that surprising.
As for me and my history with the Garbage Plate, I used to get it with baked beans instead of mac salad, but I slowly converted over the years to enjoying the mac salad more. Today my perfect Garbage Plate is cheeseburger with mac salad, home fries, and a huge amount of ketchup. I go though half a bottle in one sitting, no lie. After cutting up the cheeseburgers and mixing it all together I swear it all gets absorbed and nearly disappears. Here is my plate before being cut up and mixed. I thought of posting a mixed picture but it’s not really a pretty sight.
As for my Memphian friends who I subjected this upon, they all loved it! Granted most of them had a half sized plate, but that’s really how much you should eat unless you like testing out how clogged you can get your arteries in one sitting. The bonus to this meal was the Genesee beer, found at a local grocery store! Never thought I’d see the day that a Rochester brewery would have a market in the south.
One year ago: Baked Oatmeal with Blackberries and Bananas
Two years ago: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
HOMEMADE GARBAGE PLATES
Makes 4 garbage plates (serves 4 garbage-plate-pros or 8 regular people)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup water, plus more if needed
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
8 beef patties, cooked
8 slices of American cheese (preferably white but did yellow this time)
4 cups macaroni salad
4 cups home fries (cubed hash browns), cooked
1 medium yellow onion, diced
Ketchup, mustard and Tabasco sauce
1 loaf of fresh Italian bread, sliced and buttered
1 case Genny Light/Genesee beer
- In large skillet, fry chopped onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add meat, stirring constantly with fork to keep its texture fine. Once the meat browns, add water and tomato paste. Simmer 10 minutes. Add sugar and spices. Simmer 30 minutes, adding water if necessary to keep it moist but not soupy*.
- To assemble the garbage plate, melt one slice of cheese on each beef patty. Place 1 cup of macaroni salad and 1 cup of hash browns each onto four plates. Place 2 beef patties on top of the heaps, in the center. Spread mustard and diced onions over the beef patties. With a ladle, cover the center of the heap with plate sauce. Top with ketchup and/or Tabasco sauce, and garnish with buttered bread. (Also, here’s a slide show of how to put together a garbage plate.)
- Best served with Genny Light or Genesee beer.
*I like to prepare my sauce the day before. I feel like the flavors mix together better if they sit in the fridge overnight. But you must resist the urge to spoon off the grease that settles on top before reheating it!
Source: Adapted slightly from The Lynches.